Mary Larsgaard, Master Map Cataloger

by Dorothy McGarry

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Mary Lynette Larsgaard was a very special person. Among many other positive comments, people said that she was always willing to listen, that her intelligence and expertise were unsurpassed, that she was kind and enthusiastic, generous and wise and open to working with people, and that she was always so full of life and energy and intellectual curiosity.

I first met Mary 35 or 40 years ago. I don’t remember where I first met her, but I have known her in a number of different situations. Because of the multiplicity of her activities, this tribute to her will cover only some of them.

In addition to her many writings on cataloging, Mary was active with many organizations, serving on committees, speaking at sessions, giving workshops, and generally interacting with people and having a large impact on the cataloging of cartographic resources. While Mary was at the Colorado School of Mines she had a project where the maps in her department were cataloged but the other government documents were not. She wrote about the project and how the circulation of maps increased significantly with cataloging, while that of the documents remained the same.[1] A number of librarians mentioned that based on this article they convinced their administrators to have the maps in their libraries cataloged, with similar results of increased use.

Before Mary left SLA, she served on its Cataloging and Access Committee in its first year. However, she moved to the ALA Map and Geography Round Table when it was established, thinking that it would have a greater effect on rules for map cataloging. She was active in forming its Cataloging and Classification Committee and served for some years on that Committee, including as chair. She also participated in the Map Cataloging Discussion Group of MAGIRT and the ALA Cataloging and Classification Section, where many librarians came to know her and learn from her. She wrote the “On the Cataloging/Cataloguing Front” column of base line (MAGIRT’s journal) for several years.

Mary served on the CCS Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access, including chairing it for three years while RDA was being developed. Here, her overall knowledge and her interest in cataloging beyond cartographic materials stood her and the library community in good stead and increased the areas of her impact on cataloging. A resolution was passed when she left that mentions that she also served as chair on several committee Task Forces when no one else could be drafted. The resolution also said “she channeled Solomon while chairing the discussions of the drafts of [AACR3 and RDA] seeing that the committee met its charge to provide concrete feedback on the content of the drafts but also allowing a place at the table for voices to express concerns with the overall process and general makeup of the drafts”.[2]

Mary was the MAGIRT representative on the committee that issued the first edition of Cartographic Materials: a Manual of Interpretation for AACR2 and was representative from both MAGIRT and WAML on the Anglo-American Cataloguing Committee for Cartographic Materials that issued the second edition. Her participation was critical in developing this work that explained and expanded on cataloging issues in AACR2 so that users would understand the purposes of various rules and how to use them as well as have information on other points important to cataloging in order to catalog cartographic materials correctly, so the resources can be found and identified by users.

Mary mentioned that, when RDA was being developed, she and Betsy Mangan attended a meeting of the Joint Steering Committee for Revision of AACR. They took maps with them, and held them up while explaining to the JSC points that had to be taken into account in preparing rules for cataloging maps.

Mary commented on the International Standard Bibliographic Description for cartographic resources, providing excellent input to the ISBD Review Group. When I contacted her a few months before the end, I didn’t want just to ask her how she was or about her health, so I asked her if she would be willing to look at revisions being considered for the ISBD. She responded she would be glad to comment on the rules for cartographic materials, but unfortunately the revisions weren’t ready in time.

Those who knew Mary or met her will each hold his or her memories of her for years. Those who never met her but read her writings will benefit from the readings and the great impact that she has had on cataloging. Because she produced so many excellent articles, librarians will continue to benefit from her work for many years to come. Mary will not be forgotten.


[1] I have tried to locate the title of the article and the name of the journal, which I once knew, and did not succeed. If anyone know this information, I would appreciate your letting me know or sending it to the IB so that others can enjoy this article.

[2] When I was Chair-Elect of the Cataloging and Classification Section of ALA, I was in charge of appointments to CC:DA. I asked Mary if I had her permission to appoint her, and she agreed. Her service was exemplary, and I have always been pleased to have appointed her to her first term.

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